Saturday, October 13, 2012

Regional Legislative Building Evolution

This posting is a selective look at the architectural evolution of sub-national legislative or parliament buildings in the United States and the United Kingdom. Admittedly, designing an intrinsically symbolic structure has never been easy, given all the formal and informal groups with a stake in the result. In the past, the easiest thing for the architect was to fall back on tradition. Nowadays, in the era of architectural egomania ....


New York State
This 19th century state capitol building is unusual (for the USA) in that it was inspired by French châteaux.

Washington State
This late-1920s structure is far more typical of state capitol buildings, following the theme set by the national capitol in Washington, D.C. which, in turn, borrowed from cathedrals such as St. Peters in Rome and St. Paul's in London.

Oregon's capitol from the 1930s retains a dome of sorts, but it's a drum-shaped variety.

This 1920s capitol design rejected conventional domes for a mini-domed Art Deco skyscraper style.

Being the latest state to be admitted to the union, Hawaii opted for a modernist structure that supposedly contained a whiff of native architecture.

Northern Ireland
The United Kingdom offers a different scene. The parliament building for Northern Ireland, completed 1932, is classical with a dash of imperial majesty.

As devolution set in, Scotland opted to build a new parliament building (details here). The architect was Enric Miralles, not even a Scot, and the cost far exceeded original estimates. No doubt Miralles and his defenders have their justification for the design. Me? I consider it an ugly, un-Scottish mess. Where is Charles Rennie Macintosh when he is truly needed?


Hels said...

Oregon's capital was certainly evocative of the era in which it was built - Deco, solid, trustworthy. But that drum tower was unusual and seemed to be out of proportion. Was it usable space?

Donald Pittenger said...

Hels -- I can't answer that personally because I never visited the building (I almost always zip past Salem on the freeway rather than driving through town). Web photos indicate that the setup is a rotunda, but it might have a false ceiling.

Peter said...

Scotland's parliament building is a monstrosity.

Mike said...

I like the Washington State capitol building, but I like neoclassical architecture a lot (as well as Greek classical architecture). It a gorgeous building.

I also like both the art deco designs and I think the drum on the Oregon capitol looks fine, very cool actually. There's something forward and futuristic about art deco that I admire. And I think the skyscraper center tower in the Nebraska capitol is also very cool and is a beautifully shaped and proportioned building. Modern designers could take a few lessons from it.

And I also like the Hawaiian capitol. That's a nice piece of modernism. The plaza could use some work and the whole thing looks like it needs to be cleaned up, but it's a nice piece of design.